The End of Norway's Sole Norwegian-Owned Coal Power Plant

Gruve 7, Svalbard

And so it ends for the Longyearbyen coal power plant. (Photo from Mine 7: Line Nagell Ylvisåker)

On Thursday, October 19th, the coal power plant in Longyearbyen will close for good. The plant has provided warmth and light for the residents for over 40 years.

A chapter of Norwegian energy history is coming to a close as Norway's sole Norwegian-owned coal power plant in Longyearbyen is facing a historic restructuring.

The coal power plant, which has provided warmth and light to Longyearbyen for over 40 years, will be closed and replaced by a diesel power plant. It will mark the first step in the transition to a low-emission energy system. The shift will take place on Thursday, October 19th. 

Guttorm Nygård, the manager of Svalbard Energi, says it will be a memorable day, according to a press release from Svalbard Energi AS.

"The coal power plant has been the heart of Longyearbyen for 40 years. Now, it is to be replaced by diesel power as the first step in the shift toward a low-emission energy system. The final day of which the coal power plant produces energy and warmth for the city is a memorable day that we wish to share with the rest of the city," says Nygård.

The coal power plant in Longyearbyen has been a source of energy and warmth for the community since 1983. To commemorate this historic change, all residents are invited to see the coal power plant from the inside for the last time."

This shift marks a long-term decision that has been developed over time. In January 2021, the Norwegian government decided that a new energy solution for Longyearbyen would be explored since the coal power plant had brought about significant maintenance costs and emissions.

In the fall of 2021, the local council in Longyearbyen decided to stop the operations at the power plant in the fall of 2023 at the latest and terminated their agreement with Store Norske Spitsbergen Kulkompani AS.

During the transition period, Longyearbyen will operate with diesel power while the work to establish a new, more sustainable energy solution continues.

This shift will entail a downsizing of 13 people after Svalbard Energi has cut the number of employees in cooperation with the union representatives. As of today, Svalbard Enerhi has 31 employees. 

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